Gluten Free Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Gluten Free Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
Plate of star shaped chocolate shortbread cookies on plate with powdered sugar on top and tray of star shaped chocolate shortbread cookies

Delicate and not too sweet, these simple gluten free chocolate shortbread cookies are made with only 6 basic pantry ingredients. Chill the dough and they’ll even hold their shape during baking!

There really are only 6 ingredients in these simple cookies, and each one matters quite a lot. With no eggs, and just butter for moisture, these might just be the easiest cookies you make all year! But you must use one of my recommended all purpose gluten free flour blends.

Over the years, I’ve heard from so many readers who struggle to bake even the simplest of my gluten free recipes. Almost every single time, the problem is the flour blend they’re using. They’re just not all created equal.

Chocolate shortbread cookies with powdered sugar on white plate

Traditionally, shortbread cookie dough is shaped into a log, then sliced and baked. Of course, you can do that. But if you’d really love to cut out shapes, go for it!

If you go with cut-outs, remember that, no matter how careful you are with the dough, shortbread cookies will spread a bit during baking. Your crisp cut-out lines will blur a bit.

I’ve found that, if you roll the dough relatively thick (just under 1/4-inch thick), the cookies shouldn’t spread much during baking. And of course you simply must chill the dough until firm before baking.

Chocolate shortbread cookies on beige sheet

Dairy Free?

If you’d like to make these gluten free chocolate shortbread cookies dairy free, too, try using Spectrum butter flavored shortening in place of butter. But you’ll have to use at least 9 tablespoons, and likely a splash of water to knead the dough together. Shortening has almost no moisture.

Do not use Earth Balance buttery sticks, as they have way too much moisture. No matter how much you chill the dough, the cookies will spread way too much.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: About 2 dozen cookies, depending upon size


3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (115 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I like Better Batter here), plus more for sprinkling

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

3 tablespoons (27 g) cornstarch (if you’re using Cup4Cup or a similar high-starch blend, use more all purpose gf flour in place of the cornstarch)

1/4 cup (20 g) unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder

1/2 cup (58 g) confectioners’ sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature


  • Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, and stir to combine. The dough will be crumbly at first. Continue mixing until the dough has begun to darken in color. With lightly floured hands, knead the cookie dough until it comes together and becomes smooth.

  • Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, and sprinkle the top lightly with flour. Roll out the dough until it’s about thickness of a graham cracker. Flour a cookie cutter of your choice, and cut out shapes from the dough. Loosen the shapes from the surface with a bench scraper or large flat knife. Place the shapes about 1 inch apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer to chill until firm (about 5 minutes). Gather and reroll the scraps, and repeat the process.

  • Place the chilled cutouts in the center of the preheated oven and bake until just set, 8 to 11 minutes, depending upon size. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet until firm, at least 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing or dusting with optional confectioners’ sugar.

  • This recipe was originally published in 2012. Recipe unchanged, method revised slightly and photos and video all new. 


Comments are closed.

  • Rhea Bird
    December 30, 2016 at 12:41 AM

    Hi Nicole! I love your page. I recently discovered you and just attempted to make the soft and chewy gingerbread men recipe, and the dough turned out completely wrong even though I followed your recipe exactly. It’s light brown, unlike the dark brown of your picture. And when I put a glob of it on parchment paper, and another piece of parchment on top of it to roll it out, the dough stuck to both sheets. I tried freezing it for awhile, but the dough still stuck to the sheets. Is there any way I can fix it? I used King Arthur gf all purpose flour.

  • Christine
    December 18, 2016 at 6:38 PM

    Hi, I would like to know if you can freeze the dough of most of your cookie recipes. I’m just trying a whole bunch from your 9 best cookies for the holiday and it makes a bit too much for our family so I thought I could freeze them if I can.

  • Kali Rae Perrone
    December 14, 2016 at 6:54 PM

    Are these cookies stable enough for you to recommend including them in a box of cookies to be mailed?

  • Deb
    December 13, 2016 at 10:51 PM

    I was wondering if you have already, or could make a post on how best to change favorite recipe’s that aren’t GF, into GF recipies. I have at least two or three family recipe’s I’d love to learn how to make into GOOD GF recipes if possible. I realize that’s a reach for me who is just starting out trying to go GF, but…sure would make it easier to convince my hubby if I can make some favorites to taste just as good. Course going GF is really for ME…but I think he could benefit too, but have to make sure he has some of his favorites too, in order to get him to try it.

    • December 14, 2016 at 4:45 PM

      Hi, Deb,

      I’m afraid it’s just not that simple. Please see my flour blends page and scroll down to #8. The Myth of a Cup for Cup Gluten Free Flour Blend: https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/all-purpose-gluten-free-flour-recipes/#7

      • Deb
        December 14, 2016 at 9:18 PM

        Ok, thanks for the link…guess I’ll try to slow down. Bummer though…would have liked to make my husbands favorite cookie recipe from his mother. LOL

  • […] right? Chocolate Cutout Sugar Cookies are a must. Sugar cookies are a lot firmer than, say, Gluten-Free Chocolate Shortbread Cookies. Shortbread is really a treat, but it has waaaaaay too much butter to go cutting out mini cookies […]

  • Michele
    December 1, 2012 at 2:48 AM

    Hi there Nicole,
    I can’t wait to try all these lovely cookies. I have both of your books. The first on I bought after being first diagnosed..I was to scared to use. Now 3 years not this, have he 2nd book and LOVE IT! The drop biscuits were AMAZING.. I am looking forward to making them every weekend, then trying them with gravy. I so missed biscuits and gravy as a comfort breakfast stable going it on a weekend morning.

    We purchased a mini donut hole maker just so I can make the donut recipes through the blogs and books! Woohoo…baking fiend once again.

  • Carol
    November 27, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    I cannot begin to tell you how much I love you, your cook books and now your frequent recipes! Gluten Free on a Shoestring was my first cookbook and it is still my favorite.  Without you and your wisdom and creativity I would be lost.  No fancy ingredients, great advice and uplifting concern. 
    I am a missionary in Guatemala so many “common” things are not available to me but I do have most of the staples I need ( I LOVE BETTERBATTER!  They are so good to us!)
    Thank you for encouraging us daily in our gluten free walk!
    May the Lord bless you as you continue to serve others!

  • Shawn
    November 27, 2012 at 1:54 AM

    I adore you.  I don’t think anyone has ever, EVER thought that my cookies have been made by someone else.  But I love that you think it’s a possibilty. 

    • gfshoestring
      November 27, 2012 at 9:20 AM

      Shawn I literally laughed out loud when I read this. You really make me smile. I believe you could make cookies that fool people!
      xoxo Nicole

      • Shawn
        November 27, 2012 at 7:02 PM

        Thanks!  Hope springs enternal.  :)

  • Maria
    November 26, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    Hi Nicole!  These look awesome, and somewhat easy enough to do w/ my Grandkids.  However, I still get reactions to chocolate.  Could you tell me the brand(s) of chocolate / cocoa powder you have used that seem to be safe?  I only eat chocolate at the Holidays, or for a special occasion.  Thanks so much for your very inspirational blogs.  I always appreciate you!  ~ Maria

    • gfshoestring
      November 27, 2012 at 9:33 AM

      Hi, Maria,
      I would try using Rodelle Cocoa Powder when you are looking for Dutch-processed. It is gluten-free. For natural cocoa powder, stick with Hershey’s. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • kclark
    November 26, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    We travelled the week before TG and then ended up at my sister-in-law’s. So I couldn’t make anything gluten free to except a salad.  I don’t want to make you sad, but my kid had to eat a bowl of cool whip for dessert because all the desserts with glutenous.  I just caught up on the blog and I fell in love with your little turkey cookies.  Those would have been the biggest hit for all the kids that didn’t want to eat pumpkin pie.  Anyway, my kid wasn’t upset about the bowl of cool whip.  It just made my husband and I sad.  Next year the turkey cookies.  I am going to start making and freezing cookies for Christmas.  I have to be honest and tell you that freezer burned cookies scare me.  My grandmother used to bake ahead and put them out and they had no flavor at all.  I will go back and re-read your storage post so I can freeze them well.  I look forward to it. 

    • gfshoestring
      November 27, 2012 at 9:45 AM

      Seriously? A bowl of Cool Whip? Good for her that she soldiered on right through it! I hope she at least was able to eat a few sprinkles on it? Then it kinda doesn’t sound so bad. ;) Freezer burn comes from air coming into contact with the food. So even if you use a freezer-safe Ziploc bag, for example, and you don’t squeeze out the air, you’ll get freezer burn. So I typically wrap cookies in Freeze-Tite (you’ll see it in that GF food storage post), and then put them in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and squeeze out the air. You should be good to go! 
      xoxo Nikki

  • Rochelle9999
    November 26, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    Nicole, what is a good mix( to buy) or recipe to make a dense fruit cake. I have my dried fruit but most cakes I bake are fluffy or soft. Thanks, Donna

    • gfshoestring
      November 27, 2012 at 9:37 AM

      Hi, Donna,
      I don’t care for dense fruit cake, I’m afraid, so I don’t have a recipe that I like. If you have a recipe that you have used before and you’re using Better Batter, try contacting them and they will help you convert the recipe to gluten-free!
      xoxo Nicole

    • November 27, 2012 at 2:37 PM

      Hi, Donna,
      I don’t care for dense fruit cake, I’m afraid, so I don’t have a recipe that I like. If you have a recipe that you have used before and you’re using Better Batter, try contacting them and they will help you convert the recipe to gluten-free!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Jenny
    November 26, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    Yummy!  Yummy!  I can’t wait to try these with my little guys!  I love your blog, cookbooks and seriously, I love YOU!  I can’t thank you enough for all your hard work!  My kids and I are GF, soy free, dairy free and peanut free … without your fabulous cookbook and talents … where would we be?  Thank you! ;o) And, Happy American Thanksgiving  …. Love, your #1 Canadian Fans! 

    • gfshoestring
      November 27, 2012 at 9:38 AM

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Jenny! I’m so happy that I’ve been able to help. I hope your Canadian Thanksgiving (which I just looked up and see that I missed by over a month!) was lovely. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Mary Hall
    November 26, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Oh, I LOVE shortbread cookies and I LOVE chocolate–I can’t wait to make these!

    It’s nice to know that shortbread cookies are something that I won’t have to give up this holiday season (my first holiday season GF!)

    • gfshoestring
      November 27, 2012 at 9:39 AM

      Oh, oh Mary! No way you have to do without anything you love to eat just because you’re gluten-free! Unless of course you really loved the gluten itself. Then, I’m out of ideas. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Carole
    November 26, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Katie is going to love making these with Nana especially the chocolate part. Where can dutch processed chocolate be found.Our grocery store sure doesn’t work. Can you give me a brand name??? Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.Mine was sure different,could make a short story.

    • gfshoestring
      November 27, 2012 at 9:41 AM

      Hi Carole! 
      I usually order Dutch-processed cocoa online, and for a reliably gluten-free brand you can’t beat Rodelle (see link above in response to Maria’s comment). You can usually find it in higher-end grocery stores like Whole Foods, but you may not be able to find something reliably gluten-free. 
      I hear you on Thanksgiving. If by “different,” you mean that it kind of sucked. :(
      xoxo Nicole

    • November 27, 2012 at 2:41 PM

      Hi Carole! 
      I usually order Dutch-processed cocoa online, and for a reliably gluten-free brand you can’t beat Rodelle (see link above in response to Maria’s comment). You can usually find it in higher-end grocery stores like Whole Foods, but you may not be able to find something reliably gluten-free. 
      I hear you on Thanksgiving. If by “different,” you mean that it kind of sucked. :(
      xoxo Nicole

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